Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Forever People 11: Your Energized Lance Won’t Help You!

Throughout this series, Mother Box has been the sole focus of the Forever People’s devotion…She connects and "protects" them. But with Devilance the Destroyer, a pink skinned, purple-headed castrator with a phallic, computerized lance, the teens now have a Father Figure to contend with. In this last issue of The Forever People, Kirby puts an end to our heroes by dropping them into an Oedipal battle for control of their own destiny.

The action starts with Devilance trying to kill the Forever People in the boarding house they had moved into. Technically, the boarding house is their first residence since they left New Genesis, so by attacking them there, Devilance is assaulting their independent drive. In terms of the Psychic Apparatus, this home is a representation of the Ego.

Big Bear tries to wrestle the lance from Devilance’s control, but is thrown across the room and emasculated (not literally…luckily for him). Vykin also tries and fails. The Police, a sort of community father figure, show up and Devilance runs, stating that he has orders to avoid Earthlings. Mother Box takes this chance to "phase" the teens to safety.

The Forever People appear in an abandoned mineshaft, a symbol of repression and representing the subterranean nature of The Id. Or, to look at the picture to the left, it may represent a vagina. Devilance "forces" (wink wink) his way in, and it’s here that the kids come closest to killing their dreaded opponent. Mark Moonrider fires a Megaton blast which misses the bounty hunter, but hits the ground, melting the rock and sucking Devilance into a pit of Lava. Beautiful Dreamer, the only female and only member of the group to be concerned about this Father Figure’s condition, asks if Devilance will be destroyed, but Moonrider assures her that Devilance can adjust himself to any circumstance. They "phase" to, what they hope will be, a safer place.

Meanwhile, we see Infinity Man, who had been shunted off to a different dimension by Darkseid a few issues ago, trapped in a paradise. In this Oedipal scenario, the paradise acts as a womb, but no matter how blissful it is, Infinity Man must assert himself and escape.

The Forever People are now on an island, which was obviously the former home to a long-dead indigenous race, as giant stone heads peak out of the vegetation. When Devilance tracks them there, Mother Box is able to generate "Magna-waves" that steal away his lance, castrating him. The teen boys then take turns pummeling their feminized opponent till Devilance gets his weapon back. It’s then that Serifan uses a Cosmic Cartridge to turn Devilance into stone. This island represents the Superego, with the stone head carvings representing the historical social input that the Superego absorbs, forming the basis of Conscience. In turning their Father Figure to a similar stone, they’re attempting to assimilate him into their critical outlook on the world and end their father/child rivalry. But in Oedipal theory, the rivalry will not end till the child represses his feelings for the mother, which they won’t do. In fact, they head towards the heart of the island to get more help from Mother Box. And of course, if the island represents the Superego and Conscience, it makes sense that in the heart of this place, they restate their belief of Non-Violence, rejecting a primitive, Id-derived act.

Devilance revives himself, and Mother Box rises, readying herself for the ritual to bring forth Infinity Man. It’s interesting that, when Deadman was going to go through his "ritual" to enter his Follower, Beautiful Dreamer said that it would "be like a big Birthday Party." Here, the ritual is a difficult birth of sorts, but Infinity Man is born into the world. The metaphorical son and Devilance grapple (for control of the Phallus, natch! Infinity Man even makes a point of saying about the hunter and his weapon that he’ll "break [them] both!") At one point the spear goes limp, but wraps itself around Infinity Man like a snake or a big, fat giant cock. Infinity Man gains control, and the power each of the opponents expel obliterates the whole island.

With the critical facilities of the Superego and the Father Figure destroyed, the teens find themselves Back in the Womb (so to speak) in that they appear on the paradise planet that imprisoned Infinity Man. They "turn their backs to Earth," or turn their backs on Logical Reality. They can now be alone…with Mother.

Now, on just the level of plot…

Why would Darkseid send a bounty hunter after the teens when he’s had so many chances to kill (or at least capture) them on his own? Well, right before Infinity Man reappears for the final confrontation, Big Bear states that their battle with Devilance "must end in stalemate" and Moonrider asks their pursuer if he would be willing to "fight an endless war." That is to say, they are able to fight him off, but aren’t willing to take his life. This may have been what Darkseid wanted…for them to be constantly entangled and out of his way, but still alive. In fact, when the Island goes up with Infinity Man on it, Darkseid seems taken aback that it should end that way, saying that it was "beyond the wisdom of Darkseid himself."

Exactly why Darkseid didn’t want to kill The Forever People is never explicitly answered in the book. The obvious, Meta reason is because he would be killing the story.

By the way, "Taaru" (or at least "Taru"), the word The Forever People say to bring forth Infinity Man, is Finnish for "Story."

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